As an avid self-help fan, I’ve come across the story of two monks and a maiden, many, many times.
In case you somehow don’t know it – here it is in its simplest form:
Two monks are walking through the woods, heading towards the temple. They reach a stream, which they need to cross, but they notice a beautiful young maiden who is stumped as to how to get across. So, just like that, the elder monk picks her up and carries her over his shoulder, whilst the younger monk – visibly uneasy at this apparently violation of Monk ethics – follows on.
Once they’ve crossed the stream, they say their farewells and the monks continue on. That is, until the younger monk can bare his discomfort no more, and says something along the lines of, “How could you do that? We aren’t even supposed to make eye contact with women, let alone pick them up and carry them!”
The older monk replies, “Brother – I am no longer carrying her. Are you?“
In the interests of keeping it real, I’ll tell you that I always used to think it was utter bollocks!
I just couldn’t grasp why these respected psychologists, hypnotherapists and life-coaches, would choose to use such a mediocre and uninspiring tale.
But then something changed.
Maybe it was being in my thirties, because I’d discovered mindfulness, or maybe I just read a better version of it – whatever the reason, the last time that I read this story, I finally ‘got’ it.
I got that when we’re angry, upset, frustrated or disappointment, we’re carrying something that really doesn’t need to be carried.
A colleagues’ shitty tone of voice; a snotty comment from a partner; or a twenty-something who walks out into the road, right in front of your car, and responds to the near-miracle of you breaking in time with, “Your mums’ a C*nt!” #Pontefractlife #stillcarryingthatonelittleshit – These are the things that we carry with us, day upon day. These are the things that threaten to ruin a good walk and a good day.
So now that I’ve finally grasped what it’s all about, I’ve begun to ask myself that question a lot; to question what I’m carrying.